Friday, September 09, 2011

UK Parliament has no time for 100,000+ signature e-petitions

The UK's e-petitions initiative, intended to get the public's issues debated in the Commons, has fallen at the first hurdle, with two petitions on ice due to lack of time.

The e-petitions website lets the public start a campaign and invite people to sign to support it. Once signatures go over 100,000 – as has been the case for a petition for cutting benefits for rioters as well as one seeking the release of documents on the Hillsborough disaster – the issue is supposed to be debated by the House.

Commentators say: "100 people raising the same issue with a single MP should be enough to the thing brought before parliament."

IMO: Possibly. But I doubt it. The original 100,000 petition idea could be considered further with a view to improving it sufficiently to make it workable. Like most of Cameron's ideas, so far it has proved unworkable and is generally regarded - perhaps correctly - as self-serving spin.. The e-petition idea could relatively easily have been made more workable. For example it could have required fines and additional taxes to ALL MPs if the e-petitions were not dealt with properly. That could ensure that further redrafting of the legislation to avoid inappropriate use of the facility - which hardly anyone takes seriously at the moment. E-petitions could be made an important democratic feature. Anyway, the current Government seems to have done nothing useful at all, except criticising poor old Rupert Murdoch, and that has not helped much either.

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